The Texas Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners (TVBME) is responsible for licensing and regulating over 8,800 veterinarians in Texas, more than 1,500 veterinary technicians, and over 50 equine dental providers. It also conducts Compliance Inspections of veterinary offices located in Texas. These unannounced, on-site inspections are designed to document and monitor chronic problems that exist in the areas of Continuing Education (CE), controlled substances, and prescription labels.
In the TVBME's Administrator's Statement in its Legislative Appropriations Request For Fiscal Years 2018 and 2019, it discusses the continual growth of the veterinary population and the affects of these increasing demands on the Board's licensing and enforcement programs.
Adding an Additional Investigator
The Board seeks to add an additional investigator to conduct inspections of veterinary clinics statewide in an effort to reduce the average time between inspections from ten years to five years. The TVBME argues, "We have seen a significant increase recently with drug diversion and serious mental health issues. Some of these problems have been discovered during on-site inspections[.]"
Discovering drug diversion, substance abuse, or serious mental health problems as early as possible from conducting on-side inspections is best for the public and the licensee. Also, veterinarian clinics are in the unique position to keep controlled substances on hand as a routine part of their practice. More frequent inspections help investigators "ensure that these controlled substances are maintained and utilized in a manner consistent with applicable laws and rules."
Increasing Peer Assistance Services
Peers Assistance Services are provided to help support veterinarians struggling with substance abuse problems or mental health concerns. Texas veterinarians can enter peer assistance either voluntarily or because of an enforcement order by the TBVME.
The Board contracts with a third-party vendor to provide peer assistance services to veterinarian licensees. The demand for these services is likely to increase after the addition of another inspector and the vendor contract is anticipated to increase by 50% in fiscal year 2018.
Retention of Reduction in Appropriations
Directives from the Governor's office and the Legislative Budget Board created a 4% funding reduction for the TVBME for the 2018-2019 fiscal year, which begins on September 1, 2018.
The Board states that "[a]t this funding level, the Board’s ability to respond to complaints from the public through investigation and adjudication will be severely compromised." The TVBME seeks to retain the 4% reduction in appropriations, arguing that a 4% reduction would represent a 5% loss of the agency’s total personnel and that "the agency already operates quite efficiently, a 4% reduction would necessarily affect agency operations."
Veterinarians facing allegations of violating the Texas Veterinary Licensing Act or Rules of Professional Conduct may be impacted by the anticipated delays in investigating complaints, sending out Board Orders, and contesting cases at the State Office of Administrative Hearings (SOAH). When your career, livelihood, and reputation are at risk you do not want the added burden of administrative delays.
Veterinary License Defense Attorneys
If you have been notified of a complaint filed against you with the Texas Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners, BERTOLINO LLP can help. We are experienced veterinary license defense attorneys and we know how to navigate the Board's complaint process. We are prepared to represent you at any legal hearing or proceeding regarding your professional license. Our results speak for themselves.